Bad/Awesome Flixxx Review: Jesus Christ Superstar (1973)

"Every time I look at you I don't understand why you let the things you did get so out of hand? You'd've managed better if you'd had a plan. Why'd you choose such a backwards time in such a strange land? If you'd come today you would've reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication." - Judas

"What's the buzz? Tell me whats-a-happening? What's the buzz? Tell me what's-a-happening?" - Apostles

"Can you show me now that I will not be killed in vain? Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain! Show me there's a reason for your wanting me to die! You're far too keen on where and how, but not so hot on why!" - Jesus

At much, much insistence from my sweetheart I finally got around to watching this one. I have heard various people either singing its praises (or its songs) or talking about how they didn't like it for years and decided that it was time to make up my own opinion about it. Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's play, a bunch of hippies go out to the desert and star in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR!!!

I'll start this one off by saying that besides a few Disney numbers when I was younger (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, MARY POPPINS, or my favorite one {not Disney} CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY) I haven't partaken in all that many musicals in my lifetime. That's not to say that I don't like them, I just haven't watched that many. I didn't really like ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, and I didn't really like this one either. It didn't have anything to do with the subject matter. I actually think some of the guys (Judas in particular) were even good actors. I just don't think I like "rock operas". Does that make sense? I love rocknroll. More than a good portion of other people- I LOVE rocknroll. But something about "rock opera" makes me squirm. Could it possibly be that rock opera's DON'T rock? That's probably it. I recently came up on an insane cassette tape collection. In going through these tapes, I found maybe four by the band Savatage. One of their albums is called "STREETS: A ROCK OPERA". Interestingly enough its about a dude named DT Jesus. Some hobo who calls himself Jesus. I was trying to decide if I liked that album or not and thinking about "rock operas". I've come to no overall conclusion. But that record has a few good songs on it, and a few definite stinkers. Much like this movie. Some of the songs are catchy and that's why you hear fans of the soundtrack humming them or singing lines from them totally out of context in your daily life. But it also has some stinkers. 
Like I said, a bunch of hippies drive this school bus out into the desert, pull out a bunch of costumes and props, smoke a joint or two, and dress up like their favorite characters from the bible. Right from the start everyone is praising Jesus. And call it jealously if you want, but right away, one of Jesus's right hand dudes- Judas- starts criticizing everything Jesus does. Apparently he's privy to this whole plan Jesus has to start a movement and thinks that they're probably going to get in trouble when his other friends start calling Jesus a "god". The other dudes that hang with Jesus are anxious to get the movement off the ground, they're tired of the way things are going and they wanna be free and don't want to be hassled by the man or taxes or any of that stuff. So they put a lot of pressure on Jesus to find out "whatza happenin". Judas comes and tells him to chill out and stay away from Mary cause she's a whore and bums everyone out. Then Jesus snaps and tells Judas that he's no saint and he tells the Apostles that he thinks that none of them really care about him, basically calling them mooches. 
So Jesus profile starts getting bigger. Some of the high priests start to argue about what should be done about him. Two of them are talking about it and one is worried that if they crown him king they'll upset the Romans. One tries to talk the other out of being worried about it but finally suggests they should take it to a council of head priests. Then Judas and Jesus get into another argument over ointment. Jesus tells him that the poor people will always be there to help, but that he won't always have Jesus to kick around. Way to guilt trip him Jesus. Then those two priests bring their grievances up to the high council and they decide that there's only one thing that can be done. Execution. Meanwhile Jesus and his merry band of Apostles arrive in Jerusalem and everyone is partying. The one high priest tells Jesus and them to break it up in fear of a riot starting. Jesus tells him "no way" and basically tells him to kick rocks. Then Jesus sings a song called "Hosanna" to all his followers. Simon then tells Jesus's followers that they should rise up against the Romans, but Jesus tells them to cool out because they obviously don't understand why he's really there for them. 
Then we have a section of the movie where Jesus comes to realize what's about to go down. He gets emotional. He goes to the church and sees everyone playing bingo and gambling and having a flea market, and he freaks out and turns over their tables and starts screaming at them and breaking everything in sight. Then he goes out on the edge of town to chill out and a gang of lepers find him and demand that he heal them. He heals one or two of them and then they start to overwhelm him and once again he freaks and screams at them to leave him alone. So Jesus splits to the comfort of his prostitute friend Mary. And she sings a song about not knowing how to love him because she's used to doling out lots of faux affection and sex but never any real true love. Jesus passes out at her house. Then Judas sets about betraying Jesus by speaking with the priests. He reluctantly takes their money telling himself that maybe he can use it to help the poor. Cut to the last supper and Jesus starts telling his boys how it is. He tells Peter that he's going to deny him three times and he straight up tells Judas that he's gonna betray him to his face. Judas says bullcrap and they get in an argument and Judas splits. Everyone passes out after such a big meal and then Jesus goes and prays in a garden. Judas comes to him and kisses him sealing the deal of worst friend ever. Guards then take him to the priests where they charge Jesus with blasphemy. Then he's taken to Pilate who is the governor of Judea. Pilate says he doesn't deal with Jews and sends him to a super flaming version of King Herod (no disrespect). Herod dares him to do all his super powered tricks that he's heard about but Jesus just stands there and won't indulge him so they throw him in jail. Judas sees this and freaks out and curses God and throws his money at the priests and cusses them out before splitting to the desert and HANGING HIMSELF IN A TREE. I didn't see that coming in this flick! HEAVY! So they take him back to Pilate, who basically does everything he can do to try to get Jesus off the hook. He tries to get him to admit that he's crazy or a liar but Jesus won't do it. And Pilate can't believe that he has to kill this guy. They make it seem like Pilate isn't such a bad guy but he is forced to have Jesus killed because his constituency is so bloodthirsty that he's actually afraid that they may riot if he doesn't. But as a final act to show that he wants no part of it, he washes his hands of the blood and says its on their heads and not his. After this is gets a little crazy. Heaven opens up and Judas floats down wearing kriss-kross style overalls on a silver cross. And they crucify Jesus leaving Judas's questions about other religious figures unanswered. Then it kind of fades out with all the hippies packing up and splitting from the desert. Should you watch this? I mean is it a super bum-out? If you truly like musicals then this a formidable one. Me, I don't ever need to see this again. I didn't get the songs stuck in my head. ALTHOUGH the one guitar line on the first Judas song is pretty sick. I don't know maybe its just not my thing.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Gerald Abernethy